As the game celebrates 140 years and the Swans celebrate four decades of Aussie Rules at the SCG, Neil Cordy looks back at some of the games which have made the code a key ingredient in Sydney’s sporting history.
Round 10 v Collingwood 1999
When Tony Lockett went past the 1,000 goal mark in his first season at the Swans (1995) it was just a matter of time before he was threatening Gordon Coventry’s long standing record of 1,299 career goals.
He overtook Doug Wade (1,057) mid-way through 1996 and then there was only Coventry in front of him.
Appropriately the opportunity to claim the record would come against Coventry’s old team Collingwood in round 10, 1999 at the SCG.
Needing four goals to make the record his Plugger had a day out kicking nine.
He would retire at the end of the year on 1,353 before making a three game comeback in 2002 and adding another seven majors to finish on 1,360.
Nick Davis comes to save us.
Semi Final v Geelong 2005.
Four last quarter goals sink Cats and keep the dream alive.
After losing a four point heart breaker to West Coast the week before in Perth Sydney looked set for a straight sets exit when they trailed Geelong by 22 points with just over 13 minutes left in the match.
The Swans star studded forward line of Barry Hall, Michael O’Loughlin, Ryan O’Keefe and Nick Davis had managed just three goals in the first three and half quarters. Four in just over 10 minutes seemed impossible to everybody except Davis.
His first came from a snap from a stoppage close to the boundary. The second from a contested mark close to goal and the third from another snap 40 metres out.
Each goal sent the Sydney fans further into delirium. His third had them at fever pitch.
With only seconds left a perfect Jason Ball hit out helped Davis to his fourth, a left foot snap. Anthony Hudson’s call “I see it but I don’t believe it,” instantly etched into Sydney’s memory banks.
Davis’s heroics created an indisputable feeling of destiny. The Swans beat St Kilda in the Preliminary Final the following week and then West Coast by four points to break a 72 year premiership drought.
The ‘RESPECT’ match.
Round 18 v Adelaide 2015.
In the midst of the ugliest episode in the AFL’s modern history Sydney Swans fans rallied around their hero Adam Goodes.
After two years of continual booing from opposition fans and abuse and bigotry from sections of the media, Goodes walked away from the game. In his absence Swans fans, players and staff produced an outpouring of support at the round 18 match against Adelaide at the SCG.
Before the game thousands of red and white T shirts bearing Goodes number 37, produced by sympathetic fans, were handed out for free.
The Sydney banner had one word on it, ‘RESPECT.’
Lewis Jetta celebrated his opening goal to the match with his own Indigenous ‘Bird’ dance in honour of Goodes. At the seven minute mark of the third quarter, acknowledging Goodes number 37, the entire stadium rose to applaud Goodes.
The champ returned to the team the following week as Sydney took on Geelong at Kardinia Park but announced his retirement six games later after the elimination final loss to North Melbourne.
Round 23 v Carlton 2017.
Lance Franklin started the round 23 match against Carlton five goals behind Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy.
But very quickly it became clear he was in for a day out at the SCG.
In one of his very best games in red and white Buddy kicked 10 goals, picked up 25 disposals and took 10 marks. He beat Kennedy, who had won the last two Coleman Medals, by four after the Eagles star kicked just one goal four behinds against Adelaide at Subiaco.
It continued Franklin’s run of winning the Coleman Medal every three years.
Sydney Derby Final
The first All Sydney final at the SCG.
Elimination Final Swans v GWS, 2018.
Derby finals between non-Victorian teams are extremely rare. Adelaide’s 89 point semi-final win over Port Adelaide in 2005 is was the first and only one in the AFL era before the GWS Giants arrived in 2012.
Remarkably the 10 years of the GWS Giants time in Sydney has already seen two.
The first, a qualifying final in 2016 at Stadium Australia, saw the Giants beat the Swans by 36 points.
The first at the SCG came in the 2018 Elimination Final.
40,350 packed into the SCG to watch the Giants inflict even more pain on their cross town rivals with an easy 49 point win. Lance Franklin was held goal less and the Swans managed just four goals on their home deck. Toby Greene led the way for the Giants with three goals.
Swansong for Sydney greats as Buddy celebrates 300-
Round 23, v St Kilda 2019.
There have been a lot of pressure packed moments at the SCG over the last four decades but the round 23 clash against St Kilda in 2019 wasn’t one of them.
This was a party.
With finals out of reach for the first time since 2009 there was nothing to do but celebrate the careers of premiership heroes Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith.
In a perfect confluence of milestone’s and farewells Lance Franklin also played his 300th.game.
Grundy and Smith had finished up earlier in the year but McVeigh and Jack got to go out with their boots on. Both put icing on the celebration cake with goals which lifted the roof off the SCG grandstands. They also got to sing the Swans song one more time when they ran out comfortable 45 point winners.